What is pain?

Let’s get the science bit out of the way first. The name given to painful signals that come from the body to the brain is nociception, a weird word but there it is. Pain is the emotional response to these signals.

How do you view pain? Most people see or sense pain as inconvenient, something that is stopping them from living the life they want to live. “If it wasn’t for this pain I’d be able to work 10 hour days and have active play with the kids when I get home”.

What about viewing pain in a different way? Instead of an inconvenience, what if you saw pain as your body’s way of telling you it wasn’t coping with the stressful demands being placed upon it? The pain in fact is a warning, alerting you to unresolved stresses that are hurting you. Some people are not so fortunate and are completely unaware of the narrowing of their arteries…

Stress comes in different forms, like physical, chemical and emotional — it can be both positive and ‘negative’, and tends to be cumulative. Then when the sum total of ‘negative’ or overwhelming stresses outweighs the positive stresses for a long enough period of time, pain is the result. Now this accumulation could take hours, weeks, or even years, but once the body has adapted as much as it can to the stress the end result is pain.

There may have been mini warnings along the way, reduced energy (“oh but that is my age”); poor sleep (“I expect that is just the caffeine”); or even negative thoughts (“oh well everyone has those”). Each of them was in fact an early warning that the brain, nerves and body were becoming overwhelmed by stress.

There are even more subtle signs that you may not have picked up on, like raised blood pressure, raised blood sugar levels, difficulty digesting foods, the list goes on. Each of these is in fact an outcome of the stress response.

The frustrating part for many people is that when they decide to make healthier choices, the expectation can be that the pain should be gone now and forever. Well, unfortunately there is still a balance at work. Introducing healthy habits such as chiropractic adjustments, vegetarian diet, regular walking and daily stretching is still offset by chronic low levels of stress such as negative news stories, poor postural habits, long hours at work, stressful relationships, too much sugar, caffeine or fat, again the list goes on.

Even once the good stresses outweigh the negative stresses the process of healing and correction takes time and ongoing work, sometimes months of work to correct.

A lifetime of poor postural habits (often starting with those awful school chairs), isn’t unwound in 3 weeks, or even 6 months without establishing new habits to support the changes being made through chiropractic. Gradually introduce breath work, walking and stretching on a daily basis, cut back on dairy, meat and sugar, become more aware of your stressors through meditation and build positive expectation through goal setting and your energy levels will develop. Be aware this that is still offset by your long work hours and other negative stressors. (“Oh but I don’t have any negative stresses in my life” – well unfortunately your body doesn’t lie, so if you are experiencing pain then you my friend have negative stresses in your life).

Pain then is not the problem, it tells you that you have a problem. It can be a gateway to better health, because it helps you discover what needs to change.

Nobody said it was going to be easy, but having a health and wellness advisor like a doctor of chiropractic on your side is the best advantage you can get.

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